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Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood, is among 10 Illinois hospitals selected to serve as regional distribution sites that will distribute the first doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials announced on Dec. 4.

Last Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that the state should get 109,000 doses that will initially be distributed in the “50 counties with the highest per capita death rates,” Capitol News Illinois reported, adding that “it will be several months until there is an adequate number of vaccine doses available for the general population.”

The first people to get the vaccines will be essential workers, particularly frontline healthcare workers, and people who live and work in long-term care facilities.

Loyola officials stated in a statement released Friday that “immunization will require two doses, spaced three-to-four weeks apart depending on the specific vaccine,” and that the Illinois Department of Public Health has approved the vaccine for those who are at least 18 years old.

“Loyola Medicine distribution sites will eventually include Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and other locations,” Loyola officials stated. “Loyola’s capabilities will expand as the vaccine becomes more widely available to the public.”

Shawn P. Vincent, Loyola Medicine’s president and CEO, said that Loyola “has the laboratory and storage capacity and capabilities, as well as the breadth of experience, to oversee this vital function.

“We look forward to working closely with IDPH and the Governor’s office to ensure the safe, timely and appropriate distribution and administration of vaccines in our region,” he said.

Pritzker said Friday that there are 655,000 frontline healthcare workers in Illinois and approximately 110,000 adults in the state who live in congregate care settings, according to Capitol News Illinois’ reporting.

After the initial group of vaccine recipients, Capitol News Illinois reported, “a second phase of vaccination will include ‘other essential workers and persons at higher risks of severe COVID-19 illness, including persons 65 years of age and older,’ according to the state’s vaccine plan.

“Then it will be ‘critical populations’ as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP. Then the general population can receive the vaccine.”

Loyola is just one of two hospitals in Cook County selected to be what the state is calling Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers.